LONG BRANCH: A surprise retirement celebration party was held on March 25 for Bruce Johantgen, Long Branch and Monmouth University policeman well known to the city and towns around
It was a close held secret protected by the many who made the event at the Celtic Cottage Tavern on Second Avenue.
Close to 50 friends and family were there waiting as daughter Carlie "guided" her dad to the Cottage "where son Frank was hoping they would stop in," Carlie told all after she held the secret to the last minute.
Bruce was surprised to see Monmouth U. friends in the Cottage room as he entered. Then, as he saw his old Long Branch crowd at the other side of the room, the surprise was over.
For Bruce it was a second retirement occasion. He had served as a Long Branch policeman for 25 years, retiring the force as a Detective Lieutenant. Then came is his eleven years at MU.
A recognized professional in law enforcement, he is also community minded with years of fire department service, the many years with former city Chiefs John "Fazz" Zambrano and Bill Richards and Mauro "Buzz" Baldanza, from the Oceanport chief's job. They were among the locals awaiting his arrival at the Cottage along with Bill Managarino, Ken Walker, Joe Aflito, John Musiello and Drew Winans.
For the near future the retiree and wife Diane will be taking a vacation cruise , followed by Bruce spending time back home as he works through the "honey do" list that awaits, Carlie said.
"He is my hero," Carlie told Word on the Shore. Her sentiments were echoed with hugs and kisses from the other family members who added to the big smile he carried as he joined in photos of family and friends from MU and the community.
The family included his son Frank, his second daughter Jackie (getting married in April) and other family members. All gathered around as the "Congratulations Bruce" cake was sliced.
Word on the Shore adds its congratulations and best wishes.